21 July 2010

Two Pesto Pasta

This is a re-post of a recipe that I cook often. It's one of my all time favorites. Why? Let me count the ways: it's easy, it's healthy, it's made in the time that it takes the pasta to cook, and it uses ingredients I always have on hand. I first posted it when my blog was brand new. Almost nobody saw it. I decided to re-post it so that you could all see it. You're welcome!

This is my favorite easy pasta recipe. This is the recipe I make when I don’t feel like cooking, or whenever we have unexpected company and I want something different but easy to feed them--I always have the ingredients on hand.

For these photos I used cappellacci, which are cute little hat-shaped pasta, but you can use any pasta that will hold a thicker sauce: rigatoni, penne, farfalle, tortilloni, spirelli, even tagliatelli. Basically, whatever you have on hand, but probably not spaghetti or cappelini. This sauce needs something to grab on to. It’s good with plain or flavored or whole-wheat pasta.

The sauce is based on plain yogurt, and I try to use a tangy one. I usually use low-fat yogurt, because that’s what I always have on hand. You could use greek or bulgarian yogurt as well. A word to the wise, though: be SURE the yogurt’s plain. When we lived in DC, Dan’s cousin Dick came to town for a business meeting. I naturally assumed that Dick would have dinner in a fancy restaurant with his colleagues, but he said he’d rather eat with us. I didn’t have much in the house, so I made this pasta for him. I (luckily) had one carton of yogurt left in the fridge, and when I opened it I crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be cherry or chocolate. Nope, it was white. So I made the dish, and served it proudly. When I took the first bite, I gagged. Really. I actually gagged. The yogurt wasn’t chocolate, it was vanilla. Eewwww. I jumped up and reached for Dick’s plate, explaining red-facedly that it wasn’t supposed to taste like that. But he held on to his plate for dear life (probably afraid of what might replace it!) “No!” Dick said, “I LIKE it”. And he ate it. Every bite. I always loved him for that. So when you make this, please double check the yogurt. It should be PLAIN.


1 cup plain yogurt
2-3 Tablespoons basil pesto
2-3 Tablespoons red pesto
a generous handful of freshly grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 pound pasta

  • Fill a large pot with plenty of cold water, and bring it to a boil. Add a good handful of salt. When it’s at a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir from time to time while it’s cooking.
  • Meanwhile, take a pan large enough to hold the pasta easily (I use a wok) and in it put the yogurt and the pestos and the parmesan. Stir to mix and heat gently. You don’t want this to cook, you only want to knock the cold off it. When it’s barely warm, turn the heat off and wait till the pasta is done.
  • When the pasta is done as you like it, drain it well and dump it all into the sauce. Stir well to mix. Serve sprinkled with more freshly grated parmesan.

Serves 4 if they like it and 10 if they don’t


  • Because you’re mixing complementary colors (red and green), the color of this will be sort of, well, brown. You can modify the brown-ness by changing the proportions of the two pestos. I sometimes make it redder or greener. In any case, it’s still brown...
  • Variations--basically you can add whatever you have around that will go with these flavors. Some examples: A handful of chopped dried or semi-dried tomatoes; chopped chicken; toasted pine nuts
  • You can also use pesto made with rocket instead of basil. It’s a different flavor, but it also goes with the tomatoes.


Hungry Dog said...

Kate, you're so funny. I love the way you tell a story. And I like the sound of this pasta. I'm putting it on my list.

Linda said...

Looks delicious! Thanks for posting!
My basil is booming!

Magic of Spice said...

Love this, what a great idea with two pestos and yogurt too :)

The Rowdy Chowgirl said...

Love, love, love this kind of pasta recipe. And since I've been making my own yogurt, I always have some in my fridge--and I know it's plain, not vanilla! :)

Barbara said...

You know what, Kate? I think we should repost some of our very favorites once a month. Back when I first started blogging, I had some of my best recipes posted, and nobody to read them!

Love this one!

Carol at Serendipity said...


I am having pasta and pesto tonight. Don't have any yoghurt but I will be sure to have plain. I hate it when I gag right at the table....
What is red pesto?


Stella said...

This was delicious! I made it...
I posted it too, Kate. I hope that's okay. Let me know.

2 Stews said...

Basil pesto is a staple in my house, and so is all types of pasta. And easy is goood!!


Juliana said...

Wow Kate, this look so yummie, love the mix of pesto and the yogurt in it.

Lynne @ CookandBeMerry said...

I love simple pasta dishes and yours looks wonderful. Who cares if its brown, its the taste that matters. I have never mixed red and green pesto together, but that is a great taste idea. Thanks.

Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

I adore this idea and your blog! So happy to have found it :-)

Sophie said...

I also often make a similar dish!! It is so easy yet so tasty!

MMMMMMMM,..lovely food!

Kisses from Brussels!